Documentary, Diary, and Dream
History is constantly remembered by individuals.
In 1988, the year I entered elementary school, I remember seeing so many flyers that almost covered the school wall, representing candidates running for president. And at a stationery store near the school I could find products that have a cute tiger character on them. At the time, I was not aware of the historical weight of the faces in the flyers or the tiger character. Yet, I still could tell that people somehow seemed very excited and optimistic.
Like lives of many others in Korea during the 80s, my family lived in a small one-room house and around the Olympic we moved in an apartment that has three rooms like many others did.
We tend to separate an event from an everyday life. However, they are in fact not separated. Somewhere far and near, our home and the world are not separated either. Some experienced the fall of Berlin Wall while eating dinner on TV and some watched the news of Kim Jung Il’s sudden death while doing a check-up at a hospital. In other words, we are citizens and civilians living everyday life, and at the same, witnesses of the time bearing testimony to history.
While researching the historical background of 1988 Seoul Olympic, I discovered that I had deeper connections and ties with the Olympic than I had thought I had and the generational connection I had with the theme became an important link to my work. The name of the cute tiger character is Hodori and a child born in 1981 was chosen to be Hodori (the real human Hodori) in commemoration of having won the bid for the Olympic in the fall of 1981 in Baden-Baden, Western Germany. In other words, the Hodori was a child of my age and children who entered elementary school in 1988 and ultimately adults who projected their dreams and hopes through us.
In fact, many people experienced dramatic economic growth through the Olympic and could have a better standard of living as lots of apartments and townhouses were built. To me, there is a memory in which everything was hopeful and optimistic, which is epitomized by the 1988 Seoul Olympic. On the other hand, there is not-so-bright reality of today that is quite different from what we had hoped it to be at the time.
We look back on the past because we like to more objectively introspect ourselves today. And by revisiting those social, cultural, and historical junctures we think about the historical legacy left to us. While creating this work, I felt like I was re-watching a movie that I had already seen, that I know how it ends because of the 25 year long time gap. There are two versions of me: the 8 years old me who that just started watching the movie, and the 33 years old me watching a replay of it. Perhaps, the act of re-watching or vigorously thinking back on something implies that the present may not be that happy.
This work is about my childhood and family history. It is also memory about the dramatic period of social change and a statement about the story that ended somewhat differently from how it was expected back in 1988.
This is the most personal story, and yet, a story outside my home. A story way bigger than the Seoul Olympic stadium in the summer of1988.